Watch ‘Record/Play’ Now – Time-Bending Contender For Best Live-Action Short Film Oscar | Shadow and Act

Watch ‘Record/Play’ Now – Time-Bending Contender For Best Live-Action Short Film Oscar | Shadow and Act.

It’s very Afrofuturistic . I would love to think of and write something like this. I really have to start thinking shorter–not everything has to be full feature length (not that I’ve tried, but brief ideas come into my head and they never seem complex enough. Just stuff complex into a smaller package! One way to get started at least.) I love time travel and I think it had a pretty cool twist, especially in regards to him getting hurt in the past and it translating to the present day. I think I wish there’d been a little more with regards to his getting hurt–does it heal once he removes the tape pieces? I suppose that’s the case and it isnt strictly necessary (it would definitely bog down the storytelling), but just a brief thought I had.

It’s very brief, little words, but lots of thought, action, and even emotion. I really enjoyed this! I hope it gets the Oscar nomination. The article says it could even be adapted to feature length. This short piece seems about perfect, but a feature would be interesting, and I would need them to keep the PoCs in order for me to care (it’s a shame that it isn’t obvious that they would do so).


What I Watched Today

Today I finished Orange is the New Black, after starting the season yesterday midday during a sick day at home. Interesting show, great supporting characters, I’ve grown to dislike Piper more and more as the show progressed. Daya, Taystee, Poussey, and Black Cindy are some of my favorites characters. The pre-prison flashbacks were such a small taste of these characters and I really want more of how a lot of them got to prison and their normal lives.

I also watched:

Whose Line is it Anyway?

Brooklyn 99 – Hmm. Amusing new show. Enjoying the diversity (2 black people AND 2 hispanic characters). Mike Shur is a plus, as a big #Parks fan. I’ll keep this on my DVR.

New Girl – So glad it’s back! It was sooo good and I LOVE Nick and Jess! and Winston was FANTASTIC and oh Schmidt. But the show has not lost it’s greatness over the summer.

The Mindy Project – Well. There were some good moments, but as usual, you can’t air Mindy after New Girl, it’s not as funny and for me, constantly fails in comparison. Sorry Mindy. Also, I’m bored with James Franco. *rolls eyes* But welcome back, Mindy.

The Daily Show

The Colbert Report

The Queen Latifah Show – I might check this out regularly. I don’t watch a lot of talk shows, but today’s interview with Will was funny of course and the segment with Will and Alex Trebek was inventive and fun. I still need to watch the rest of the episode though…

A Different World – expect this to go on my daily list a lot, since I love it and it’s right there on my DVR.

[New segment I will do to help me write everyday/more often. As the Fall 2013 TV comes along, I will try to at the very least, post what I watched each day. If I’m feeling write-y, I will add opinions and such. Though it may only be: “I’m so excited for this episode!” (if written before) or “this episode was fantastic!” (when written after). Hope I can keep up and keep going with this blogging thing. =)]

On Pilot Season

From: Post-Water-Cooler TV: How to Make a TV Drama in the Twitter Age

“The thing that still is really completely out of whack is pilot season. I mean having gone through that and having six weeks from a green light to shooting the pilot, competing with 100 other shows for talent, it’s crazy. It just seems completely out of date in the current ecosphere of television.”

I definitely agree. And I think there needs to be more audience participation in pilot season. I get that some shows are dropped because of budget or actor reasons. But then come up with a bunch for each network that were greenlit, then get some more audience feedback. Put them on Hulu or Netflix or your network site. Give us more choices and start the buzz for each show even earlier. That way you’ll know before 2 episodes in in September that the show isn’t sitting with mass audiences. AND (reading the next but in the interview) you could advertise during all those pilots and people would watch them, sometimes more than once, to decide which ones they liked. Obviously that’s optimistic but they won’t know until they experiment with the model.

On Rewatching and Live Tweeting

From: Post-Water-Cooler TV: How to Make a TV Drama in the Twitter Age

“They all watch it more than once. They watch it, and they live-tweet, and then the fans will watch it again and be like: I noticed this other thing.”

Yes, this is definitely true. People will watch your show more than once if they really enjoy it and that’s always good. Some writers dumb down their stories for the audience but if you raise the LCD and put smart stuff in your shows (great lines, little moments between characters, background events and easter eggs) and people rewatch a show, they’ll pick up more, they’ll pay closer next time and they’ll watch more than once. They might even watch it again on television on Hulu, where you can get some ad money from it.

TV is like Jazz

From: Post-Water-Cooler TV: How to Make a TV Drama in the Twitter Age

“A show is much more like jazz than it is a symphony. It’s call and response, responding to what’s happening in front of you.”

“You can have a plan, but you have to be open and flexible to making that plan better if an idea evolves, or if you find yourself with an opportunity that if you don’t seize, you’re going to regret it.”

On Planning Ahead

From: Post-Water-Cooler TV: How to Make a TV Drama in the Twitter Age

“Q: But, as he says, the writers will often put characters in a jam with no idea of how to get out of it. How close to his reality is yours?”

I love how Carlton Cuse (Co-exec on Lost) didn’t weigh in [in this excerpt] on this question. Because EVERYONE knows that that was how Lost operated. A lot of times to disastrous, unsatisfying results.

“We’ll have things planned, it’s just inevitably those plans get yanked away.”

That’s true and something we as audience members must keep in mind. It’s also important when thinking of specs, because you can’t write a guest in to a script because the idea is to act like it’s gonna be produced and you don’t know whether that actor will be available.

Post-Water-Cooler TV: How to Make a TV Drama in the Twitter Age

Link: Post-Water-Cooler TV: How to Make a TV Drama in the Twitter Age

“The water cooler moment, what is that really? At its core, it’s people having a reason to have a conversation about a shared experience, but there’s a lot of ways to have a shared experience. That can be live-tweeting. That can be people that have binge-watched a season of something and told their friend, “You have to binge-watch it, so we can talk about it.” Then they have a conversation two weeks later that’s about an entire season. I just think the water cooler is expanding in concentric circles to allow for more experiences.”

Check out this NY Times article. I’ll be liveblogging/posting some quotes and my thoughts in the following posts.

You can do it. Will you? An open letter to all creatives.

“The world needs you, it needs me, to step up and give ourselves to it because somewhere there is someone who will be moved by what you’ve done enough to do it themselves. “

The Tiny Protagonist

inspiration1I struggle. Every creative person I have ever met struggles but that fact always escapes me when I am feeling particularly in touch with the idea that I haven’t amounted to enough, that I haven’t worked hard enough or smart enough or taken enough risks. I chose this life even when I failed to choose anything at all.

Failure isn’t the thing that scares me most. If you’ve ever played sports you know that losing is frustrating and sometimes heartbreaking, though you get over it, but the act of competing – putting it all out there, regardless of what side of victory you end up on, is where you find out who you really are. There is a price to pay for anything you really want. There is a price to pay to be who you want to be. The cost is different for everyone but you must pay it…

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Joss Whedon says:

“The goal is never about the medium. It’s always about the next story.”


In this day and age, the word “television” doesn’t always mean “watching on a television set in the living room.” This quote speaks to the power of stories and, considering it’s Joss discussing SHIELD, the power of television stories, regardless of the device people are watching it on. We don’t care about network (except to think about the kind of shows they bring us), we care about the stories and characters. So Netflix can bring us new stories/characters, Hulu, YouTube, NBC, ABC (ugh I guess CBS too -__-). As long as we get continuous stories (which is what TV provides us that movies, books, and plays can’t to the same extent).

Bill Cosby says:

“I’ve seen this movie before,” Bill Cosby said in a recent interview. “How is it that there are people of color who are CEOs of companies, that are presidents of universities, but there is no reflection of that on the networks? It is arrogance and it is narcissism. Even the commercials have more black people than the programs.” (Unfortunately the show discussed in this article doesn’t seem to have survived–I haven’t heard much on it–though for me, the title is ineffective to start with. Too long and a bit clunky). 

Even on shows starring white leads, there aren’t characters in these high professions. Can we get that at least? 

Blog quotes:

“Last I read the last African-American/ Black sitcom that aired on a major TV network in the U.S was 6 years ago. 6 years.”

“Black sitcoms were, in many respects, a TV sub-genre that presented to viewers love, respect and fun. And through these sitcom shows, they demonstrated that it was possible to come from and be from an minority group- and STILL be successful and happy without resorting to derogatory stereotypes and buffoonery that elicits the very stereotypes Black people have fought and challenged throughout the years. And of which they continue to do so to this day.” 


Check out this post from a UK citizen’s perspective on black television in America. Even from abroad, they recognize that there is a severe lack of representation of black people on American television, especially the major networks. 6 years is a long time. And that seems to go for dramas too. Not too many dramas on network TV starring black people (and this is me including them as the lead, not as a token but as a focus. Won’t even bother trying to find a drama where there are more than one.) and right now we only have Kerry Washington on Scandal. I just saw an ad for NBC’s Thursday night line up–no black people to be seen. =( 

The Black Sitcom: A Representation We Can Be Proud Of

The Black Sitcom: A Representation We Can Be Proud Of

I knew I wasn’t the only one with these thoughts on what the black sitcom is missing today. I just need myself and more people to help networks see that shows like this are worth greenlighting. And audiences to actually watch them. 


(And the Nielson ratings system to die or be seriously upgraded because people like me (basically non-middle of the country who doesn’t watch CBS) don’t get our voices heard so shows we want to watch don’t get the “ratings” they need to survive. That’s a rant for another post.)

Is this the summer of African-American Cinema?

CNN discusses the films written, produced, and directed by African-Americans this summer. Includes “Fruitvale Station” and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”

26 Minority Screenwriters to Inspire You

26 Minority Screenwriters to Inspire You

Just linking here on wordpress a post I wrote for Amanda’s Aspiring TV Writer and Screenwriter Blog. Minority screenwriters of both TV and Film. Check it out here! Let me know of writers I may have missed!

ConStar Studies 90s Black Sit-Coms

I just finished watching A Different World. Despite being such a huge fan of The Cosby Show, I’d never watched the spin-off. I finally have made my way through most of the episodes (thanks to YouTube, since only season 1 is on DVD right now). And I loved it. It was well-written, fun, funny, had great character development, and tackled the issues of the day without losing the above. All in all, it was just very real

It wasn’t perfect; the season 1 to 2 cast/production staff shake-ups in cast were definitely a game changer, some other characters went in and out, Jaleesa married Col Taylor (which I was not a fan of), and then completely disappeared, and there are a few really weird/corny dream sequence, cast-talent show episodes that I kind of skipped through. Granted, I spent most of my marathon pining for Whitley/Dwayne scenes anyway, but even that was handled pretty well for a will-they/won’t-they arc. The lead up to their involvement wasn’t rushed or forced (unlike most of Ron’s cast love interests)–it helps that even when Dwayne was supposed to be hung up over Denise in season 1 and they were on a date, he still had globs of chemistry with date-crasher Whitley–and when they got to together, they actually stayed together for several episodes, across a season finale, before the inevitable split up. And when they got back together, they were together for good (one break up is fantastic numbers for a WT/WntT. A good amount of tugging at our hearts (though I’m sure over 6 real-time years it may not have felt good) without overdoing it like some shows (the Ross/Rachel effect I guess).

A Different World had a diverse African-American cast (meaning diverse amongst the black community; there isn’t just the token, cool, black best friend), good writing, and actors with great chemistry with one another. And it raised issues of black history, racism (on both sides of the divide as well as within the black community), classism, war, politics, date rape, AIDS, and other issues that were (and unfortunately still are) plaguing the black community. There’s nothing else like it. Which leads me to wonder, where are the shows like this today?

We had a really good run of quality, family friendly, uplifting black television in the early 90s. The Cosby Show, A Different World, Family Matters, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I could be missing some, but these 4 are the pinnacle. Of course there was also Living Single, Martin, The Wayans Brothers, The Jamie Foxx Show, and a few other shows towards the late 90s, but these shows were more silly, general sit-coms. They were escapist and pure fun. That’s not bad, it’s just not my point. [I’ll add ABC’s My Wife and Kids to this list, though it started in 2001, as somewhere between the classic sitcom nature of a show like Martin and the life-lessons of The Cosby Show. It did try to have life lessons but really did err on the side of silly a lot.] They also aired on UPN and The WB, which is again, not bad, but the other 4 aired on 2 of the 3 major networks of the time, in a day when FOX/UPN/WB were just starting out and there weren’t cable networks dedicated to black television

And this is part my problem, my concern, really. Those shows (which were a part of NBC’s juggernaut Must-See-TV line up and ABC’s super-popular TGIF block) were hits of their day and were reached by millions of audience of all colors. Now, we have several channels dedicated to black television (both old and new, reality and scripted) and I can’t say that any one has created a show like the 4 I’ve been mentioning. And there aren’t any black sitcoms on network (the big four) television at all right now (if I am missing one, please inform me)(and someone tell me what’s on my9 and CW, they’ve been focusing on white teenage supernatural shows, no?). We have all this television space (and, increasingly, YouTube and Netflix and Hulu space) and still no one has created shows like these. Well-written, focusing on educated black people who want to know their history and raise the lowest common denominator of entertainment? That’s seems absurd. I had a Facebook status with the question of why shows like ADW don’t exist today, and someone said because I hadn’t written it yet, and while I appreciate the challenge and hope to someday do so, where are all the other people like me who miss these shows and want people to watch more than Love and Hip Hop (which I am disappointed to see is not at all like the movie Brown Sugar)?

Elizabeth Meriwether’s (New Girl) tweeted this the other day and I think the answer is related to my question.


Some of the responses were that we started being honest with ourselves and that 9/11 happened. These things could be true. I also read somewhere (I can’t cite the source right now, sorry) that especially in this post-9/11 world, we went from utopian fiction and ideas of the future to dystopias and world collapse. Probably why zombies are at an all-time high of popularity right now. These things are probably related to why we don’t have uplifting black sitcoms on right now.

Maybe I’m just a family friendly (but not corny) kind of girl. But shows like Cosby, ADW, Fresh Prince, and Family Matters showed the world and young kids (both of other races and blacks ourselves) that we are more than just the stereotype. And while a lot of people say that the things those shows presented aren’t reality, if we don’t see them exist anywhere, how can we make them a reality? ADW made kids not only want to go to college, but Historically Black Colleges. Cosby showed kids that we could be families of doctors and lawyers or even get our PhD in Education while being an actor/comedian. We can grow up in Philadelphia and become the fresh prince and then the number one movie star in the world (as a black lead in several sci-fi films at that, something no other black actor or actress has pulled off (well, Sam Jackson and Zoe Saldana too. My interest in black sci-fi is another blog post). Black kids are nerds too (though Urkel style has been adapted by hipsters now) and we can accept that and be happy with it. Despite them not being reality, they can lead us to a new reality. This is why we need shows like these on today. The other stuff isn’t bad (a lot of the reality is bad, #scriptedtelevisionforlife) but it doesn’t challenge us or teach us anything. These shows did. And I want more like it.

But I suppose, as they say (paraphrasing): The [television show] you want to [watch] doesn’t exist? Create it.

Related post: Why Are Black Sitcoms Less Available to Us?

Random Series Finale Thought

In the 30 Rock finale, they mention all knowing each other for 7 years because that’s the length of time the show lasted, but didn’t The Girlie Show already exist for at least one season before that? (I feel like it was 3?) This is nitpicky and I don’t really care but I just notice how season finales go with the number season you’re watching and not nec how long the characters have known each other. I’m not complaining or anything, I get why it happens, but it also happened on the West Wing, where the characters say 7 years because it was the 7th season but it was really 8 because two terms in office, and then another 2ish for the campaign… Those are the two series finales I watched most recently but it makes me think of other finales where they kind of skip over the fact that they knew each other before the show started. Just a funny observation.


ConStar Studies Elevators and Shonda Rhimes

Watching the latest episode of Scandal, I noticed that Shonda Rhimes has a pattern placing her romantic leads (her usually adulterous romantic leads) in the world’s slowest moving elevator and cranking up the sexual tension. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s something in my “studies” that I’ve noticed about her. I’ll ramble on a bit about why I think she uses this trope. (Gotta check TV tropes for elevator tropes: yup, here is the whole index:

Elevators are a great space for a scene. By nature the scene can’t last too long (unless someone is trapped which can be great for drama and dialogue) and there is a sense of claustrophobia and time constraint that heighten the tension of the scene. Also elevators are inherently awkward (think about your last elevator experience, especially with other people you don’t know).

Any pair can get in an elevator, but romantic leads are a classic choice. The awkwardness. Especially between a burgeoning relationship. The space confinement. A couple who can’t be with each other for whatever reason being forced to breath the same air, smell each other’s perfume/cologne, not touch for 30 seconds. The time constraint. Trying to make out (or whatever, this is PG guys) in those 30 seconds.

Shonda loves this trope. On Grey’s Anatomy, Meredith and Derek are always in elevators (well, season 1-5 that was true, then I stopped watching. Sorry.) and now Scandal‘s Fitz and Olivia are constantly meeting in elevators. (Shonda also seems to have a thing for adulterous romantic leads.) They often can’t touch so the awkwardness and the entrapment are factors and often enough, they break the “can’t touch” rule and try to touch as much skin as they can before the elevator hits the 5th floor.

(Just a quick note on a fave Grey’s episode of mine (2.5 “Bring the Pain” – which was written as a season finale) that involves UST-less elevator usage: the season 2 episode with George and Alex in the elevator and they perform heart surgery in there. Great episode all around and great new use for the elevator other than Mer/Der secret hook up time haha.)

Just a thought on elevators and how they can work in a story.

Going up.


ConStar Studies TV

Whenever I think about what I want to do with my life, one of the only things that makes my heart race with excitement is television. I really just want to work on a show similar to any of those that I have loved in the past and help make people forget their problems by tuning into a really great episode of television.

I suppose I am trying to work in production or development (preferably in NY–totally not ready for LA yet) but somewhere in my future, I think there is a place for me in television writing. When I was little, I always thought of grown-up me as a writer, but in a really vague sense. As school got more difficult, my creativity pretty much shut down throughout high school and I’m trying to gain it back. I think my outlet for that might be tv script writing, but I’ve always been interested in many areas of television development.

My biggest TV influences are some of the big cult names: Joss Whedon, Steven Moffat, Aaron Sorkin, Dan Harmon, Tina Fey, and Shonda Rhimes (also Andrew Marlowe and Mike Shur) [maybe I will do a post on why I like each of them or what I’m learning about tv writing from them]. As I watch their shows, I try to think about what about the way they weave stories through episodes, seasons and series draws me in the way they do–though often, I get caught up in the story and forget to analyze.

Another big TV influence of mine is TV Tropes. It’s a great compilation of story devices and conventions from all sorts of media and since TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life, it’s been an obsession of mine. I often think about how TV shows and other stories connect and how universal certain stories are. I may discuss tropes that I’ve noticed but couldn’t put a name to or tropes on this week’s episode of whatever that I may remember from That Show From 10 Years Ago’s episode. Just know that I love TV Tropes.

I am also really into learning about story/plot structure. I think that structure is what will help me (though its not for everyone) learn how to make the words come out onto the page. It is really easy to apply simple and Hero’s Journey structures to novels and movies, but sometimes it’s a little harder transferring it to TV. Dan Harmon helps a bit, as did Ellen Sanders. I will be thinking about these and looking for more TV plot structures to help me learn how to tell a story that will have people wanting to tune in next week. Also helpful: Story by Robert McKee. If you know any more books or links on structure, send them my way!

SO, this blog will be a place where I “study” (in one of the loosest contexts possible probably) television. Pilot season thoughts, news from Twitter on current shows, random thoughts about shows I am currently watching or rewatching, tropes I am troping, or maybe scripts I am reading. Almost anything to do with television. I may even share (though at the moment it is unlikely) specs that I may be working on–my attempts to apply my “studies”.

Let’s go to work.